“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” Psalm 111:10
Read this verse over and over. What is God whispering to you?
This morning God is calling us to dive into the deep. I’m reluctant to go deep because I just finally finished harvest yesterday and I’m ready for a break. I want to just sleep all day and do nothing. I want to not think and just rest. I want to have fun and celebrate after I have rested, but God is calling: “Come closer; Come deeper; Immerse yourself in Me.” As I meditate it starts to make sense. In God is peace. Peace is relaxation as we let go of all our anxiety and we relax our tense muscles giving us rest. There is joy which brings celebration. Joy is that feeling of overwhelming goodness. As sense of peace along with celebration. So, I quiet myself and allow God to pull me deeper.
As I meditate on God’s word through our verse this morning the first parts jumps off the page. This is the diving point, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear is the word that seems to be the end of the diving board. Are we to be afraid of God? If that were so wouldn’t Jesus have come in fire and brimstone but instead Jesus cams as a little baby in a manger. Jesus didn’t lead an army against our foes instead He came in peace and love. That is why, I believe, so many of the Jews got it wrong. They were expecting Jesus to come in power, in brute force that would bring fear on everyone. But that is not who God is.
Let’s dig deeper. The Hebrew word for fear is ‘yirah.’ It is an interesting word. Strong’s concordance says it means fear, morally reverence. Some possible words to use is dreadful and fear. But God kept telling me there was more, so I went to the internet. You can find a lot of miss information on the internet but with God’s guidance and due diligence you can find truth there too. I found that yirah has three possible meanings but can also mean all three at the same time. It can be translated to fear, awe, and reverence. In our particular verse it means all three. The fear, awe and reverence of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.
Is it possible to have fear, awe and reverence at the same time? I mean they seem so different. We know what fear means, to be afraid. Should we be afraid of God? Everyone who encountered God in His glory trembled in fear. Encountering God personally can bring fear as He is so holy and we are sinners. His over whelming holiness will instantly contrast with our sinfulness cause us to shake and tremble. But God’s glory is also so awe inspiring. There is nothing as great and majestic as He is. We will experience awe at the same time as fear. All of this leads us to revere Him. We can’t help but have respect for His glory. If you have never experienced this then you have never quieted your self enough to see His glory.
It isn’t easy. Experiencing God personally requires us to put our selves aside. To stop running with the world and take time to connect with God. I have experienced it just standing outside looking up at the stars as they shine bright. Out here in the country you can see the beauty of the milky way. On the real clear night, you can see different colors in the stars and the milky way that just bring awe, then fear as you realize how small you are in comparison, then reverence as you are carried away in God’s creation. That is what yirah is.
You can also experience yirah in prayer. It requires us to be still, letting go of everything and just being in the presence of God in that moment. It means releasing your worries and thoughts. Just focusing on God’s presence and sensing His glory. We can do this by focusing on the birth of Jesus. Put yourself there as an animal or a shepherd. Now, see Jesus in His glory. Look past the stable. Look past the manger. Look into His eyes. Dive in head first as if they are a pool of soothing water. Feel that overwhelming love as the water covers every part of your body. Do you feel awe? Now look how deep this love is. As you look into the deepness of the water you will see what Jesus has done for you. Here come the streaks of red that flow like ribbons getting wider and entangling themselves. Then they wrap around you, pulling you deeper. Do you feel the fear? Our sin is great, yet His love is greater as these streaks of red become one and then start to fade away into a brilliant white. Your sins have been washed clean by the blood of the lamb. That baby born for you to die for you. The over whelming love of grace. Do you feel reverence?
God is more than just stories that we read and tell. He is life, our life, eternal life. Forgiveness of our sins flow from His love to give us life. He is our everything. Let Him be your everything. Be still and let go and experience yirah: fear, awe, and reverence.